A Safford detective on patrol on Monday, June 3, 2019 observed a vehicle turn into Thunderbird Mobile Home Park on Highway 191 at approximately 10:30 PM. The officer noticed that the vehicle’s license plate lamp shield was broken so he followed the vehicle into the park. The vehicle came to a stop in an empty parking area. The detective activated his emergency lights and approached the vehicle on the passenger side. The detective told the driver the reason for the stop and the man, later identified as Eric Lopez, admitted that he was driving on a suspended license. Lopez said that he was driving into town because his kids had called him. He told the detective that he tries to take back roads to Clay Knolls and then rides his bike into town. During their conversation the detective noticed that Lopez was sweating profusely and appeared to be nervous.
There was a knife laying on the center console of Lopez’s car. When asked if he had any more weapons Lopez said that the knife was for work but admitted that he was not supposed to have any weapons because he is a convicted felon. He also told the detective that he was on pretrial services.
Lopez was asked to exit his vehicle and the detective patted him down for weapons. He asked the detective if he was going to do some tests on him. The detective asked him why he would ask that and Lopez replied, “because they always do.”
When a deputy arrived to assist, Lopez said that cops make him nervous. Lopez confessed that the vehicle he was driving was not registered. Dispatch confirmed that his license was suspended.
Lopez consented to search of his vehicle. Authorities found a meth pipe with residue inside the center console. Lopez was placed under arrest for drug paraphernalia. When asked if he had anything else on his person, Lopez initially replied that he didn’t want to go to jail. He stated that he didn’t have anything else on him and that he last used meth a day or two prior. Lopez then suggested that they search his pocket. Authorities found clear plastic seal in his right coin pocket that contained approximately a gram of meth.
A marijuana grinder was found in the driver’s side door of the vehicle. Lopez claimed that it was his daughter’s. He admitted that the meth in his pocket was his but the meth pipe and marijuana grinder were not.
Another officer arrived and conducted a field sobriety test. The officer said that he believed that Lopez was impaired and should be arrested for DUI. Lopez was transported to the Safford Police Department for a blood draw and then was booked into the Graham County Jail.